Ballroom Dance > How Often Should One Compete?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by spatten, Apr 28, 2005.

  1. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    We have to assume that the ability of one couple to improve and adapt is going to be very nearly matched by the ability of their competition to do the same thing. If you have a lot of versatile, well-coached couples all striving towards the same goal, it takes a while for a small comparative advantage to lift you to the top.

    But it's also likely true that couples with excellent coaching from early in their dance experience will need to make fewer drastic changes
  2. Twilight_Elena

    Twilight_Elena Well-Known Member

    :shock: :shock: That was traumatic, macha! :? :? Did your dad actually yell at you like that? If so, I'm shocked, truly.

    Twilight Elena
  3. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Hmmm, Elena, I guess you haven't dealt with a lot of "sports parents." My dad was kind of like that with my swimming when I was in high school. I think that kind of bad parental attitude is not uncommon.
  4. Katarzyna

    Katarzyna Well-Known Member

    I think 4 weeks is not that long for fundamental changes. I think you constantly work on fundamental elements of the dance, but big changes might not be visible from comp to comp. Competing too frequently becomes a problem when couples totally focus on being ready and rehearsed, and don't have time to realy work on longer term improvements. However, if you treat smaller comps as rehersal for the bigger events, you can keep your focus..

    Also, I think the ideal comp frequency is related to practice frequency. If I compete every 4 weeks, and practice at lest 6 days a week, there are plenty of hours to make big changes from comp to comp. If couple works on multiple styles, practices 3-4 times a week working on different things every time, bigger changes might not be accomplished during one month..
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Wow. :( Should is a loaded word for me too. My twin sister and I have a saying, "shoot the shoulds." (Actually, I think she borrowed it from some self-help book or the other. *shrug*) My deal? Understand your values and do things in support of those values.

    That's why I'm jumping in here. I didn't get the impression that this thread is about seeking external validation through competition. (Although I'm sure there are people who do that.) I think what this thread is asking, is whether there's an optimal comp schedule that will get a serious competitive dancer closer to their own self-determined goal of improving as a dancer.

    I think that's a bit different than "should" which does set off emotional alarm bells for me, since I was also raised with the shoulds. :wink: 8) (Thank goodness no yelling, pushing or comparing. Just shoulds.)

    I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth. But the impression I got is that the person who started this thread has identified dance excellence as a core value. So there's no reason for him to sit around eating Krystal burgers, when he could be out honing his craft. Yeah? :wink: 8)
  6. spatten

    spatten Member

    Thanks for standing up for me, funny thing in typical Scott fashion I didn't realize I should have been offended until someone else pointed it out.

    But yes, the point was really to get an idea from others who had more experience in choosing when to compete. My partner seems to think we should compete more, so I wanted to see if other people agreed with her.

    Being a dancesport couple in Iowa is something akin to living in a vacuum. And we all know what nature thinks of a vacuum
  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    So you'll be travelling to most of these comps? That makes once a month sound pretty frequent ... :? Um. Meaning, to the folks who know, how does the wear and tear of travel figure into this? Or does it? 8)
  8. LXC

    LXC New Member

    I feel your pain. If you have the financial resources and the time, by all means travel and compete more often than what's available locally. But just want to let you know that the fact we don't compete once a month hasn't impacted the results much (in the very few times that we did get out of the vacuum :p ).
  9. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Fundamental changes aren't something you can make in a matter of weeks. Those kind of changes take months and months. What you can do in a matter of weeks is some fine tuning. That, or begin the process of fundamental change, although I wouldn't step on a comp floor while in the midst of that kind of change.
  10. kansas49er

    kansas49er New Member

    sorry to go off track, but I just had to say I love vidalia rings and sweet tea.
  11. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    I'm located in NY and I've never traveled to a comp further than Boston. (which is about 5 hours away by car)
    I always prefer to spend money on lessons rather than anything else. So flying to compete is not a justified expense for me.
    I compete once a month because in the NY-NJ-MA area there are always comps at least once a month.

    I am not sure I would compete as frequently as I am if I had to buy plane tickets and expensive costumes for every comp.
  12. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    1) you can depending on how much you practice how you practice and what level you are at. I am at a syllabus level, so when I my partner and I were given a completely new concept about my frame and upper body posture, we completed the change in 2 weeks and competed, and have the new frame on the comp video to compare it to the old one from previous comp. Looks sooo different! I went from collegiate bronze to collegiate gold in 6 months, so I gotta have changed some fundamental aspects of my dancing in those 6 months.

    2) i don't understand the last point... ideally I am almost always in the middle of a fundamental change... like 2 weeks I am changing something fundamental and then 1 week I am trying to polish it and review other stuff, and then I am competing. And then another change.

    you are saying i need more than a month to change something, but I also shouldn't compete in the middle of a change... so how often do you think one should compete? once in 3 months?
  13. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    No, they really are something that you can accomplish and make useable fairly quickly, provided that:

    1) You are used to making those kinds of changes


    2) You are given new information you didn't have before - either by finding a new coach, or by having a coach who has more to tell you than there has yet been time to work on.

    If progress really slows down so that changes take months and months, one of the following might be to blame:

    - Deeply set habits that are very hard to change (but the more you do it, the easier it becomes to make rapid changes)

    - Coach is telling you the same thing over and over, which either doesn't contain or hasn't clarified to you what you would actually need to know in order to fix the problem (try a different coach)

    It is true that the better you get, the smaller changes you would need to make - however, almost all of the dancers we see at competitions have substantial differences between their fundamentals and those of top champions, so few of us are really anwhere near that ultimate slow-down point. (Incidentally, when I get the chance to work with a top coach, what I generally do is spend the time trying to understand what they are really doing in the most basic actions - I'm specifically looking for fundamental changes I need to make)
  14. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Just to respond to Kitty's comment about it depending on level, I'm not sure that this isn't really a dependence on how set one's habits are. It's fairly easy to get beginners to make huge changes in a single day, because every action in their dancing is a result of conscious thought. As a result, it can actually be possible to get them to implement an important, but little known detail much more quickly than it would be possible to get a more experienced dancer - who is used to moving steps through a habitual groove - to make a major change. Obviously all the details in beginner's dancing are tenuous unless reinforced over time, but if we want to remain effective dance students as we advance, we have to cultivate an ability to disengage the autopilot and retake beginner-like manual control of any aspect where we need to experiment with changes.
  15. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

    I think that a big reason why level matters is the size of the mistakes. I used to have a teacher who said, and I'm paraphrasing:

    "When you first start dancing, progress and changes happen really quickly. This is because the mistakes that you are making are so big, that any change in the right direction makes a big difference. As you progress, the mistakes you're making are smaller and smaller, so fixing them doesn't make as big of a difference and the progress slows down significantly."
  16. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    Also depends what one sees as the point of completion for a change/correction.

    Doing a modified/upgraded movement consciously in competition is one thing.
    Having the changes embedded into "muscle memory" is another.

    The first requires intellectual capital during performance--which makes it tenuous given the other tasks at hand to be dealt with, during the course of a heat.
    Personally, I consider the movement *updated* when I could perform the change without having to think about it.

    And that does take some time to build in.

  17. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    In my opinion, it's not so much that the mistakes get smaller, as that the immediate improvement from fixing them becomes smaller. In the beginning, there are so many possible ways to choose from that you could grab any of them and make progress by developing it. But if you've developed on a path that turns out after a while to be a dead end, then you have to make a major change to get onto another path, which at first may result in little if any improvement. It may be only over time that the little advantage of fixing the big mistake will really grow into something worthwhile.

    In terms of what maximus said about intent vs. habits in competition, yes in competition you probably want to be using methods that, while not necessarily automatic at least have the habit developed enough to take over a lot of the work. However, if you get in the habit of adjusting habits, and as Kitty suggests are getting in a lot of practice time, then you really can make substantial changes in what feels natural over the course of a week or two. You'd still have to pay some attention to the new idea in competition at that point, but not so much that you couldn't concentrate on other things as well.
  18. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    So there are a couple issues in play. One, how often to compete. And the other, moderating ones expectations of improvement between comps.

    Is that what I'm hearing? 8)
  19. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    Bumping this thread in response to discussion in the post-comp disorder thread. It's striking to me how different our experience is from most of these posters', though I would bet that a lot of it has to do with who happens to post (and even who happens to be on DF). We compete only 3-ish times a year, and I can't conceive of competing once a month or more. But that has a lot to do with location. Annually, we have only one drivable comp with a decent-sized field (5 hours away). There are one or two small comps 3-ish hours away, but we don't find them worth the drive and probably hotel, given that we'd most likely be dancing uncontested. So we almost always need to fly to compete -- time, expense, hassle. And the distance that we drive for lessons mean that those are less frequent than most people's, so we need more time for improvement between comps, plus we use up some of our travel stamina on lessons (and on long distance travel for all family visits, and on work travel...). So we're on the slow track. But that's OK. I'm aiming for us to be dancing open by the time I'm 50. We'll probably have to up the pace at some point, but for the moment, slow and steady is moving us along just fine.
  20. Jananananana

    Jananananana Active Member

    Bia, are you talking about doing pro-am or am-am or pro-pro?

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